SAN DIEGO, June 23, 2015 — Helen Keller was a deaf-blind American woman whose courageous journey began on June 27, 1880, and who continued to inspire the world until her death at the age of 87.
Born with normal hearing and sight, at 19 months she suffered an illness of “acute congestion of the stomach and brain” that was believed to have been the cause of her lifelong deafness and blindness, according to Wikipedia.
The exact nature of her illness is not known, though it has been speculated that she suffered from a form of meningitis or possibly scarlet fever.
Keller was brilliantly portrayed by Patty Duke in the Oscar award-winning 1962 movie “The Miracle Worker,” which helped showcase her struggles and triumphs to an international audience.
“One can never consent to creep when one feels an impulse to soar.”
-Helen Keller, The Story of My Life
Despite her incomparable struggle to become relevant in the world with which she could not communicate, Keller later triumphed over seemingly insurmountable adversity, becoming a well-known author, activist, lecturer and world traveler–also having earned a bachelor of arts degree from Radcliffe College.
It is estimated that there are over 40,000 people in the United States who are deaf and blind.
According to the Alabama Institute for Deaf and Blind, there is a variety of possible causes of deaf-blindness:
- Maternal rubella
- Usher syndrome
- Down syndrome
- Fetal alcohol syndrome
- Maternal drug use
The Helen Keller National Center for Deaf-Blind Youths and Adults published President Ronald Reagan’s Presidential Proclamation 5214, establishing the Helen Keller Deaf-Blind Awareness Week, which this year began June 21 and ends June 27 on Helen Keller’s birthday. From the proclamation:
Helen Keller Deaf-Blind Awareness Week, 1984
By the President of the United States of America
“Our eyes and ears provide vital ways of interacting with the world around us. The lilt of laughter, the beat of a brass band, the smile of a friend, and the poetry of a landscape are but a few of the life blessings that our senses of sight and hearing help us to enjoy. But for some 40,000 Americans who can neither see nor hear, the world can be a prison of darkness and silence…”
“On June 27 we commemorate the 104th anniversary of the birth of Helen Keller, America’s most renowned and respected deaf-blind person. Her accomplishments serve as a beacon of courage and hope for our Nation, symbolizing what deaf-blind people can achieve…”
“Do not think of today’s failures, but of the success that may come tomorrow.”
-Helen Keller, The Story of My Life
For further information about how to participate in or provide support for the Helen Keller Deaf-Blindness Awareness Week, contact:
c/o Development Department
(516) 944-8900 ext. 310
TTY: (516) 944-8637
Until next time, enjoy the ride in good health!
Laurie Edwards-Tate, MS, is a health care provider of over 30 years. As a featured “Communities Digital News” columnist, LifeCycles with Laurie Edwards-Tate emphasizes healthy aging and maintaining independence, while delighting and informing its readers. Laurie is a recognized expert in home and community-based, long-term care services, and is also an educator.
In addition to writing for “Communities Digital News,” Laurie is the President and CEO of her firm, At Your Home Familycare, which serves persons of all ages who are disabled and infirm with a variety of non-medical, in-home care and concierge services.
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